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China, Africa Boost Soft Power Through Cultural Exchanges
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Observers eye a grand artistic show in Egypt last night to mark the 50th anniversary of the Sino-Egyptian relations as a cultural dialogue between the two old nations.


The show, attended by visiting Chinese premier Wen Jiabao, was a glamorous show featuring the pattern of the Forbidden City, as well as Chinese Kungfu and musicals with traditional Chinese and Egyptian elements. It was staged in the square of the Pyramid.


This was Wen's first stop of his seven-nation African tour, which provides a new opportunity for cultural exchanges between China and African countries in addition to economic cooperation.


In fact, cultural exchanges between the two sides began in 1955. From that time on, China and African countries have signed 65 cultural agreements and carried out 151 cultural exchange programs, according to the Chinese Ministry of Culture.


The exchanges, seen as an element of soft power, have been dramatically stepped up in the past five years. China signed 22 agreements on implementing cultural exchange programs with 17 African countries while more than 10 African countries sent over 20 government cultural delegations to China.


About 40 African cultural groups came to China for performance tour from 2001 to 2005, accounting for nearly half of the total number in the past five decades.


Sino-African cultural exchanges in the new century is featured with large scale cultural activities such as Sino-African Culture Year that China hosted in 2004 under the framework of the China-Africa Cooperation Forum.


During the year, China received nine African art troupes and eight government cultural delegations while dispatching four art troupes and three exhibitions to Africa.


Meanwhile, China and African countries carried out fruitful cooperation on human resources development in the cultural field. China sent 10 teams of experts and launched 14 workshops in African countries in the past five years, covering library science, dossier management, archeology, biology, dance and acrobatics, according to the Ministry of Culture.


Cultural cooperation has been considered as an important component for Sino-African ties by the China-African Cooperation Forum and China's first-ever African Policy Paper which was issued this year and instituted layouts for cultural exchanges, according to officials with the Ministry of Culture.


(Xinhua News Agency June 19, 2006)

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